Change or Die: Gambit Cannot Ride Miracles Forever
The prevailing theory on how all species have gotten to the point at which we observe today is evolution. The fittest survive while the weak die. As a species, you must change in order to survive in the ever changing environment; otherwise, you will be swallowed up and discarded, only leaving behind a skeleton of failure. Gambit too is a living creature embedded in an ever changing environment called Counter-Strike. And if you stand still for even just a minute, the teams right behind you in the standings will overtake you.
Now that Gambit has won the world championship, one might incorrectly assume that this means Gambit are the best team in the world. In the group stage, Gambit only played one top 4 ranked opponent, which was G2. G2 are a far cry away from the first, second, and third best teams. Additionally, G2’s coin tossing antics demonstrate their lack of discipline and direction, which only takes away from Gambit’s Major run.
Gambit’s first opponent in the playoffs was Fnatic. According to the last edition of Thorin’s Top 10 World Rankings before the Major, Fnatic were the eighth best team. They were not the worst team for Gambit to play in the first round of the playoffs, but the lack of reseeding in the Swiss system obviously contributed in part to the unchallenging run of Gambit to get to the semi-finals. There is also talk of roster changes as the contemporary Fnatic is a longshot from past form.
This is where the difficulty shot up from zero to ten for Gambit. Astralis is a legitimately good team that beat SK in the quarterfinals. An unfortunate matchup so early on, but it cemented the fact that Astralis still had the ability to be number one after their extended respite prior to the Major. Going into the finals, Gambit, unlike Immortals, could say that they beat arguably the best team in the world. Personally, I view SK as the best team, but Astralis played better at the tournament in question. In a best of three going the full distance, Gambit managed to beat Astralis, securing a form of legitimacy that was out of reach for Immortals.
The veto phase for the final, was such that Gambit should’ve had a convincing 2-0, but instead, they had claw back the win in a full best of three. Gambit was an unstoppable team on Cobblestone earlier in the year. Wallabeebeatle even so aptly called it Gambitstone in an article sharing the name as its title. In spite of Gambit’s proven prowess on the map, a few teams have picked it against them and won. Joining SK and CLG, Immortals won Cobblestone as the first map of the series against Gambit. In the following map, Train, Gambit was able to take the wind out of Immortals sails and bring the series to a third map. Gambit closed the series on Inferno with a combination of by the books play thanks to Zeus’ guidance and crazy outplays like Dosia’s graffiti commemorated nade kills.
The Krakow Major was a good run for Gambit, and they should be proud of everything they accomplished. Those five players stole a spot into a prestigious group we call Major champions. Just because they lacked the pedigree of other teams at that tournament and won doesn’t mean that their victory wasn’t deserved. However, the fact remains that they shouldn’t have won this Major, and more often than not, teams obey what should and should not happen. This Gambit team has not indicated in the ten months they have existed that they can consistently perform as champions of the largest events; therefore, the Major must be considered an outlier and cannot be counted on being reproduced. It’s not that the Major is being discounted and forgotten, but if Gambit wants to be a team contesting for championships, then they will need to make changes.
These changes begin with the most inconsistent member of the team: mou. Rather, a more fitting description of mou is that he appears largely unable to contribute in the way that his position as AWPer requires when playing tier 1 opponents. Against tier 2, however, where results are less meaningful anyways, mou perform wells. So it’s not exactly an issue of consistency but rather an inability to justify his spot on a team that is looking to be a top team in the world.
The second candidate for removal would be Dosia. Dosia, like streamers and personable players, is a valuable asset to Gambit for something other than what he contributes in-game. While he isn’t as glaring of a problem as mou, Dosia has marked a weakness in this could-be CIS superteam. The lurk position has come to demand the aggressive lurk style of players like valde instead of the hard lurk method of the past. First generation CS:GO lurkers, like Dosia and GeT_RiGhT, have been unable to maintain past form and impact, nor have they shown any indication that they will be able to return to such a level. Dosia and his presently ineffective style harken back to the title and concept of this article--change or die. Dosia has been unwilling or unable to change the way in which he plays the game, and because Gambit hasn’t changed him for another player, they both will die. That is unless the aging player in Dosia makes a miraculous change and becomes an effective lurker and top ten player again.
The very top of professional Counter-Strike has gotten so competitive that the top three teams take turns as to who will be playing in the final. The team that wins is usually dependent on some miracle that pushes them over the edge into victory. Contrastly, Gambit is a team that rode a miracle all Major long. If Gambit desire to join the Three Kings and think they don’t need to make roster change, then they don’t understand just how competitive the Counter-Strike scene is right now.
If what was required for Gambit to make their Major run didn’t speak for itself, then, hopefully, the period which occupies the Counter-Strike scene at the moment will create a sense of urgency for change of the roster. There is a month-long player break in which many contracts will be expiring. No doubt, some CIS contracts will be expiring as well. Before potential replacements commit to other teams and find success apart from the currently attractive reigning Major champions, Gambit should be on the hunt for players. s1mple is very likely a career-long player for Na’Vi now, but young prospects, such as electronic, are still very much on the table. Vega Squadron players would jump at the chance to leave behind an ECS Development League team for world champions. Change could never have been so easy for Gambit, but it now appears to be the time when they are least likely to do make changes.
The Gambit organization and players have lucked out with this Major win falling right into their lap. They are in prime position to capitalize off of this win, and while it may be the most unlikely time to make a change, it is the most opportune time. Gambit will not get another opportunity until the next Major, and by the time, their stock would have likely plummeted. Change is one of the hardest things to do. By the end of this month, we will see if Gambit has what it takes to not only be the official number one team in the world but to actually be that team.
Image credit: Ozam, Dreamhack - Adela Sznajder
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